A growing number of federal appellate courts have decided that Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination expressly covers lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees. As a result of these court rulings, workplace protections for LGBT people have advanced in significant and measurable ways. The rights of LGBT individuals remain a subject undergoing intense study and broad interest in the American workplace. As a result, the Federal Bar Association is pleased to offer a panel on this topic at the Labor and Employment Law Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico on February 21 – 22, 2019. Register today at www.fedbar.org/laborlaw19.

The U.S. Supreme Court currently is contemplating whether to review three employment discrimination cases concerning what, if any, protection Title VII extends against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Do protections ensured by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extend to sexual orientation, in addition to race, national origin, religion, and sex? The issue as to whether Title VII’s protection against sex-based discrimination also provides protection based on sexual orientation has divided federal appeals courts, as well as government agencies, teeing up the Supreme Court to take up the question.

Under Title VII, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee “because of … sex.” The statute does not explicitly protect against sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination. In 2018, the U.S. Justice Department took the position that transgender workers are not guaranteed federal anti-discrimination protections, arguing against the views of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and marking the latest clash between the agencies over the scope of Title VII civil rights.

What is the legal definition of sex discrimination under Title VII? How has the definition evolved over the decades to include sex stereotyping and harassment? What federal statutes protect employees from LGBT-based employment discrimination and harassment?

Join us at the Labor and Employment Law Conference this February in Puerto Rico for a panel on “New Developments in Cases of LGBT Harassment and Discrimination Under Title VII.” Speakers include moderator Joyce E. Kitchens (Kitchens New Cleghorn LLC), Jack Blum (The Law Firm of Paley Rothman), and Phillip M. Kitzer (Teske Katz Kitzer & Rochel PLLP). Register today at www.fedbar.org/laborlaw19.

The EEOC – tasked with enforcing civil rights laws – has pushed for a broader interpretation of Title VII to include sexual orientation and gender identity as forms of “sex discrimination.” The EEOC brought a lawsuit against a Michigan funeral home after it fired transgender employee Aimee Stephens. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes that the funeral home unlawfully fired Stephens. The court found that discrimination against transgender people is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a law that protects employees from discrimination. That appeals court joined a growing consensus among federal courts on this issue. Lawyers representing the funeral home asked the Supreme Court to take up the case to determine if transgender individuals are protected under Title VII’s sex-based provisions.

During the Labor and Employment Law Section’s one and a half-day conference this February, leaders in labor and employment matters will address compelling and timely topics of interest to practitioners. There is no time like the present to explore the developing law of LGBT protections under Title VII.  Register now at www.fedbar.org/laborlaw19 for early bird rates.

Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.